Amt0571

Is Spike Prime worth it at home?

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I have a 6y/o kid that likes both robotics and music. Next year though, he has to choose which one to go to, as they do both the same day at the same time.

I was thinking about "steering" him to choose music and asking Santa for a robotics kit which we can use together. I've seen the spike prime legos and they seem great for learning (and he also loves Legos), but they seem quite expensive (600€ for the Spike Prime + expansion), so I'm not totally sure about it. I'm not considering the 350€ essential kit as I think he will outgrow it too fast. It seems to me it's just an expensive Arduino + sensors, although being lego makes things really friendly for kids and that's a huge plus.

What are your thoughts on Spike Prime? I found surprisingly little information on this forum.

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Spike prime is over priced for what it is.

There is a lot of third party compatible arduino based "lego" style controllers and motors that would be worth looking at

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1 hour ago, Amt0571 said:

but they seem quite expensive (600€ for the Spike Prime + expansion),

400 €, you don't need the expansion to start with.

 

1 hour ago, Amt0571 said:

I'm not considering the 350€ essential kit as I think he will outgrow it too fast.

Yes, a hub with only two ports is pretty poor.

 

1 hour ago, Amt0571 said:

It seems to me it's just an expensive Arduino + sensors,

Yes and no. It is much easier to handle for children.
But in fact I have no idea how what you can do with it.

I never found any program examples or "lessons", only building instructions.
And you have to be able to read ....
 

Much better is the powered up  app and some tutorials or - a book for the parents ;-)

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58 minutes ago, Lok24 said:

400 €, you don't need the expansion to start with.

 

Agree, but I think the extra sensors may be cool. And maybe when I want to buy them they have discontinued this system.

1 hour ago, Lok24 said:

Much better is the powered up  app and some tutorials or - a book for the parents ;-)

But powered up doesn't seem so focused in robotics. Maybe it can be done, but Spike Prime seems to have everything you need in one box. I don't think I need a book... I've tinkered with Arduinos and RPis, but I was looking for something more accessible for my son.

 

2 hours ago, brickless_kiwi said:

There is a lot of third party compatible arduino based "lego" style controllers and motors that would be worth looking at

I have looked around and have not found anything as kid friendly. We already have several of "old" Power Functions motors, servos and remotes, but he's more interested in the robotics aspect which obviously can't be done with it.

 

Spike Prime seems to include 45 minutes lessons to learn step by step and that seems also useful to me. If we try to do something that requires hours of work to get to a result, he gets tired. I suppose this will improve as he grows up.

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the Spike app comes with many different built and coding projects.
I recommend that you download the Spike app and check out what it offers. Then you can decide if that is the way to go.

Personally I think it is brilliant and understand why it might not be for everyone.

About the price of the set maybe check Bricklink for a cheaper price than getting it directly from Lego Shop at home.

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14 minutes ago, Amt0571 said:

Spike Prime seems to include 45 minutes lessons to learn step by step and that seems also useful to me.

Just install the App (I did it on my PC), and you'll find the three(!)  examples.
And just search for these "lessons", I didn't find them.

And then you can decide.

23 minutes ago, Amt0571 said:

But powered up doesn't seem so focused in robotics.

There is the universal "Powered up" app, and it has icons instead of "Scratch" Blocks with text..
Pricing is completely different, and all Spike sensors can be used.

What is missing: the ideas what (and how)  to build.

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One good option you could look into is buying one of the older Mindstorms kits.

You've got:

Mindstorms NXT from ~$100 (https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?S=8527-1&name=Mindstorms NXT&category=[MINDSTORMS][NXT]#T=S&O={"iconly":0})

Mindstorms NXT 2.0 from ~$120 (https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?S=8547-1#T=S&O={"iconly":0})

Mindstorms NXT Education Edition from $80 (So dirt cheap!) (https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?S=9797-1#T=S&O={"iconly":0})

Mindstorms EV3 from ~$190 (https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?S=31313-1&name=Mindstorms EV3&category=[MINDSTORMS][EV3]#T=S&O={"iconly":0})

or

Mindstorms EV3 Education from $$370 (https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?S=45544-1#T=S&O={"iconly":0})

All these kits are from eras where Mindstorms was more popular, and so they they may well have better fan support. Beyond that, the EV3 kit has 8 ports compared to the Spike Prime's 6, and the NXT has 7. Both of these generations also had actual LCD screens on the hub, and have a much greater variety of sensors available, with the common motors and sensors being very cheap used. (Especially the NXT ones, which are compatible with EV3)

Edited by 2GodBDGlory

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3 minutes ago, 2GodBDGlory said:

One good option you could look into is buying one of the older Mindstorms kits.

But look if the software ist still available for the desired device.

Can the NXT motors be used as sensors, too?

 

 

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5 hours ago, brickless_kiwi said:

Spike prime is over priced for what it is.

LEGO i overpriced for what it is. :-)

I think you should be very aware about his age and what you are asking of him.

Spike Prime is recommended for age ten and up. So is this something that he will get the full benefit from?

Maybe Boost is a better way to introduce him to programmable Lego?

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39 minutes ago, Lok24 said:

But look if the software ist still available for the desired device.

Can the NXT motors be used as sensors, too?

 

If you use a NXT motor on an EV3 mindstorms hub you can read the angle, and use that as a " position sensor".

 

But for your 6yr old, any of the Lego mindstorms/Spike sets it indeed very child friendly to build your own robots with, as everything just connects easily with Lego.

Spike would be good if you could just work together with him indeed, using the Scratch coding. You could do the same with a second hand EV3 set, preferably education edition as it has a rechargeable battery (as does the Spike Prime). The home edition doesn't have this and will eat your AA batteries in rapid pace if he likes playing with it. Advantage to EV3 is that there's a solid base to program it with very few limitations/bugs with either Scratch or MicroPython at this moment. And a good amount of building plans available as it's already out for 10yr+. Just be sure to check if your device you want to use works with the setup you choose, I see a lot of complaints about Apple devices unable to find the app. Windows PC's work like a charm for all of them. If lucky you can find EV3 education sets for 100~300€ depending on how desperate a teenager needs money to buy a present for his new girlfriend, and he doesn't use his Mindstorms set anymore that he got a long time ago.

Do you already own other Lego? If so I would say, just buy the base set, no expansions (yet), and try to combine your normal/Technic blocks and make your own machines.

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32 minutes ago, Munchkin255 said:

Maybe Boost is a better way to introduce him to programmable Lego?

Absolute.

The app seems still available.
But the price for Set 17101 is now about 250 €, I bought mine for half of this, retail price was 170 €

From 7 years, no reading any text, just numbers and single letters.

The app contains 60(!) different task, which are unblocked, if the previous are done.
And instructions for 5 models.

If have been around with two sets for years on many exhibitions, and children form 5-6 and above had no problems to program something in less than 5 minutes.

Strongly recommended!
Download the app and check it out.

And her are two very simple robots (besides VERNIE, who is the star of the set)

boost2.jpg

 

 

 

 

boost1.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by Lok24

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6 hours ago, 2GodBDGlory said:

One good option you could look into is buying one of the older Mindstorms kits.

Oh yes, I totally agree.

Maybe go further back in time: RCX. 9V System. The world of wires, trains, machines, controls ...

I know: Pain in the butt to get all the components. But you can get them for almost "nothing" in the rich men's world (heck, the 1.5 RCX sells for <10 bucks on BL ...).

And then there is getting the software. But it is all out there.

When you want to learn "sensor-software-actuator processes", 9V is the way to go. Well, LEGO Technic Control (4.5V) is really nailing it, but that's another story.

When you want to experience the >modern way< of >wireless< (as this is what it is about) pair and play, then go for PoweredUp or Spike or what ever.

Best,
Thorsten

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8 hours ago, Toastie said:

When you want to learn "sensor-software-actuator processes", 9V is the way to go.

The huge difference ist that with a BOOST 17101 you have (the first level) in 5 minutes after starting smart device a robot running, and you have the 60 lessons where you really learn how to program, and you have the parts and building instructions, that means the tasks and ideas.

That's all missing with RCX.

The electronic is about 80€ (4 Parts, new), the complete set around 230 €. New!
(used you get it for less than 100)

I would never recommend a RCX for a 6 years old child today.

 

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Another way to look at this is, from which would they benefit most from expert tuition? I play guitar and I love it, but I found that I got better faster when I played alone for 15 minutes a day, instead of when I was being tutored for one or 2 hours a week. I didn't have many questions to ask, I just had to be better. I also started to play to a metronome, set to a slow speed and practice till the piece I was playing got close enough to perfect, then increase the metronome by one single bpm, and continue till I could play it pretty well at a bit faster than full speed (live rock gigs tend to be a bit faster than the album due to adrenaline).

Robotics on the other hand, it's less skill but more knowledge, I think I would have a lot more questions to ask of a tutor. And while a career in music doesn't really require much formal education depending on the career, a career in robotics certainly will. Lego Education is very expensive, maybe you could ask Santa for a keyboard or a guitar!

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2 minutes ago, allanp said:

Another way to look at this is, from which would they benefit most from expert tuition? I play guitar and I love it, but I found that I got better faster when I played alone for 15 minutes a day, instead of when I was being tutored for one or 2 hours a week. I didn't have many questions to ask, I just had to be better. I also started to play to a metronome, set to a slow speed and practice till the piece I was playing got close enough to perfect, then increase the metronome by one single bpm, and continue till I could play it pretty well at a bit faster than full speed (live rock gigs tend to be a bit faster than the album due to adrenaline).

Robotics on the other hand, it's less skill but more knowledge, I think I would have a lot more questions to ask of a tutor. And while a career in music doesn't really require much formal education depending on the career, a career in robotics certainly will. Lego Education is very expensive, maybe you could ask Santa for a keyboard or a guitar!

I can help him with robotics as I know how to program and build things out of lego.

I definitely can't help him with music as I'm definitely terrible at it.

I know the set is expensive but so far I've been unable to find anything comparable in ease of use. He will definitely loose interest if the progress is too slow. Otherwise I could do the same using arduinos or an Rpi.

I've been looking around and I've found a couple of used Robot Inventor sets at a decent price... maybe I'll try that first.

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33 minutes ago, Lok24 said:

I would never recommend a RCX for a 6 years old child today.

Well, I do. :pir-laugh:

And did practice with first-graders visiting my research group. Was fun.

You are right: It takes (much) more than 5 minutes to get a robot rolling and do a dance. But maybe that is one of the reasons, our school system "degrades" - or better: "shifts" - to training other skills than math, physics, engineering ... today it is more about learning to saving time (for whatever activity), to plug-and-play, using cell phones ... but again, that's OK, as today, the world is spinning that way. Nevertheless, I so often hear whining and complaints about missing math and science skills; it appears though, that these skills are as easily acquired as they were back in the days, when time is not ticking away that much faster as it did back then.     

As you know as well, "RCX" is much more than learning "programming". It is about wiring, parallel, in series, about what happens when a 9V lamp is put onto a 9V motor, and you spin the axle by hand ... etc. "RCX" had many "challenges", tips, hints, books, programming examples, themes, and that little remote allowed you to do entirely without programming.

But once again, I know that this is back from the days, outdated, old-school, not cool ... from a grown-up's perspective. I do know from experience that you can still catch the attention of young folks with these historical devices. I also love these very old photographs in the History of Mindstorms thread of @Coder Shah showing very young people operating a turtle robot via cables and a program consisting of lines of LOGO text. Yes, 6 years is too young for that stuff - but wiring is not. I find it much easier explaining to a young person, that "electrical current", whatever that means to them, is flowing from "the thing" to the lamp or motor through one of the two wires and back through the other. And when you turn around the terminal, the lamp is shining as bright as before, but the motor spins the other way around ... man, they really freaked out, that was fun.

But again: When you focus on "programming" then BOOST is the modern way to go. The robot you build - is almost always the same since 30+ years of LEGO robot (or turtle) building.

It all (still) depends, I guess.

Best,
Thorsten

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1 hour ago, Amt0571 said:

I know the set is expensive but so far I've been unable to find anything comparable in ease of use. He will definitely loose interest if the progress is too slow. Otherwise I could do the same using arduinos or an Rpi.

True, due do the graphical and iconic GUI the BOOST is much easier.
And the success ist very immediate

Here's the end of the first(!) robot instruction in the app

boost3.jpg

And the first program. It operates with the grid contained in the box.

boost4.jpg

Its easy, and its quick. And educational.

 

Edited by Lok24

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I have bought the basic Prime Spike set 45678 when I found a bargain (~200€) and have not regretted it. I played with my sons (8 and 10 yrs at the time) with it for quite some time, but coding was not their thing. I am not much of a programmer myself, but we were able to create some fun machines (more freestyle than following instructions/lessons) - we just dreamed something up, then built it (or what was possible with the set), and innocently dabbled in Scratch-like programming to get it to work somehow. While Spike Prime is surely less "easy" than Boost, I think the sensors, motors, and technic parts provide more playability that is not easily outgrown. If you look on Rebrickable and Youtube, you will find many simple to very advanced projects for Spike Prime. So I recommend finding a used set or buying just the key components, enjoy it as long as you want to, and then resell it again.
In my case, my kids outgrew LEGO altogether (I have not), but still play their instruments. :classic:  

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1 hour ago, howitzer said:

My question here would be... why not have your kid do both, music and robotics?

Because the lessons are both on the same day, same time.

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16 minutes ago, Mr Jos said:

Because the lessons are both on the same day, same time.

Oh, damn, I didn't read carefully enough, sorry.

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18 hours ago, TTFrA said:

I have bought the basic Prime Spike set 45678 when I found a bargain (~200€) and have not regretted it. I played with my sons (8 and 10 yrs at the time) with it for quite some time, but coding was not their thing. I am not much of a programmer myself, but we were able to create some fun machines (more freestyle than following instructions/lessons) - we just dreamed something up, then built it (or what was possible with the set), and innocently dabbled in Scratch-like programming to get it to work somehow. While Spike Prime is surely less "easy" than Boost, I think the sensors, motors, and technic parts provide more playability that is not easily outgrown. If you look on Rebrickable and Youtube, you will find many simple to very advanced projects for Spike Prime. So I recommend finding a used set or buying just the key components, enjoy it as long as you want to, and then resell it again.
In my case, my kids outgrew LEGO altogether (I have not), but still play their instruments. :classic:  

If I found it at 200€ I would buy it right away. I've looked at used sets and have been unable to find anything below 340€. Considering that I can find it new for 395€, I think it's not worth it to get it used.

I have installed the spike app in my computer and I liked what I saw... If I don't find a good offer before christmas, I'll probably end getting it.

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5 minutes ago, Amt0571 said:

I have installed the spike app in my computer and I liked what I saw...

Great, then that's the best product for you.

Just for interest, I found lots of building instructions (on the education page), but no "tasks" for the special models to be programmed, or examples.
A hint would be helpful, perhaps that could make it easier for me to decide, too. Thanks.

 

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1 hour ago, Lok24 said:

Great, then that's the best product for you.

Just for interest, I found lots of building instructions (on the education page), but no "tasks" for the special models to be programmed, or examples.
A hint would be helpful, perhaps that could make it easier for me to decide, too. Thanks.

 

I'm not sure I understand what you're looking for. If you look at the "units" tab, in the "more" link there are the lesson plans (open this link and click on "view lesson plan" https://spike.legoeducation.com/#/prime/unit-plans/bltdfae10d779620d2b/lesson-detail/blt770a2bd5553064de). These are clearly meant for a teacher, but I see no reason why they can't be used at home.

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